Karey my adorable roommate Freshman year at CU Boulder hasn’t eaten meat since she was eight. She discovered at the dinner table one night that hamburgers were made of cows. “Ewwwww”… I can picture her saying and simply making the decision then and there that it didn’t feel right for her. I admired this very much. This reason for being a vegetarian (naturally being disgusted that meat comes from animals that we kill) always seemed way more appealing to me than the seemingly absurd reasons coming from veggie fanatics. Somehow they would make me feel guilty for my entire up bringing and culture and EVERYTHING for simply eating my moms home cooked meatballs. No one likes feeling guilty or morally inferior for being themselves. Non the less, there may have been some truth to what was being said.
Honestly, I have never been a huge meat eater. I have always preferred my macaroni and cheese to hamburger helper leading most of my friends to naturally assume I am in fact a vegetarian. This has never been the case. However, as I continue down my path the topic seems to cross my mind more and more.
After spending 13 weeks nearly meat free in India, it seems a tragedy to pick up a corn dog now (not that I ever would). Somewhere along the line a shift occurred inside of me, drawing me away from my normally omnivore self. It may have been all the placid happy cows wandering safely around Rishikesh, or it may have been my discovery that eating all vegetarian is awesome. Am I never going to eat meat again? I’m not so sure. I still won’t claim to be a vegetarian because the pressure of giving it up forever (I like a good petite steak after all) is too much. The truth is that the good old days of the large open farm-land with the happy animals wandering around eating fresh grass and farm house slop are over. Unless my friend Eric decides to leave Beijing and set up his farm in Pennsylavania, I doubt I’ll enjoy bacon again any time in the near future. For today, I will handle my non-meat eating self like I handle most everything else in my life, one day at a time. For today, no meat for me thank you.
My advice to those of you who have thought about making a shift away from meat in your diet, but haven’t taken any action, is to perhaps re-evaluate. Are you one of those people who know that aspects of the meat industry are utterly horrific but would rather not know the details (you would prefer to stay in ignorance)? Then maybe it is time to start making small changes. I am by no means saying stop-eating meat all together, but there are small steps we can take to gently shift gears, perhaps beginning the drive toward a healthier, more aware, lifestyle.
Just adding in more veggies into your diet is an acceptable start I think! Try making vegetarian hamburgers one night instead of eating beef… its not that big of a deal is it?
So what lessons have I learned along the way about the controversial issue of eating meat?
Most common reasons to NOT eat meat: (I’ll be covering these issues in more detail in the next few posts…)
1) Animal Cruelty: This is the classic reason advocated by most western vegetarian fanatics. We treat the animals like *%^#. Animals have rights too! This falls nicely under Ahimsa or non-violence.
2) The Environment: Environmentalists the world over insist that by going vegetarian the deteriorating global environmental situation could be improved.
3) Our minds/Spirituality: Many yogic texts argue that eating meat actually has an effect on the functioning of our minds.
4) Our HEALTH: The most solid, logical, and selfish reason to go vegetarian. Vegetarian food is as healthy (if not more so) than eating meet.
Most common reasons to eat meat:
1) Bacon. It’s delicious. I don’t want to appear flippant, but honestly, most people I talk to about the issue argue that meat is just too good to give up.
2) Protein/ Nutrition. How would one survive without meat!? There is a huge misconception that without meat a human would not get adequit protein to sustain itself.
Action Step for today: Ponder your own thoughts and feelings around eating meat. How has the way you were raised impacted you? What have you heard from vegetarian fanatics that has stuck with you? What has turned you off? Why are you or are you not a vegetarian? Or more importantly… why do you think it is so important to eat meat?